Hate haggling? 5 ways to buy a car without negotiating

Hate haggling? 5 ways to buy a car without negotiating
Posted at 8:50 PM, Oct 09, 2017

If you don’t want to spend the day battling the dealer, there are ways to buy a car without negotiating.

Many auto services can haggle on your behalf, while other companies offer cars for fixed prices. Just remember, preset prices aren’t automatically a good deal, so always check them against online pricing guides.

Here are five routes you can take to avoid negotiating when getting your new wheels.

1. Car brokers and concierges

These auto experts take care of everything. They start by interviewing you about what you want, then find your perfect new or used car and negotiate the price, financing and extended warranty. They can even have the car and contract delivered to your doorstep.

Car concierges charge a fee, usually based on the car’s price. Car brokers generally don’t charge fees but instead receive an undisclosed commission from the dealership. This may give them an incentive to accept a higher price or favor certain dealerships, so search online review sites to find trusted professionals.

Best for: Buyers who want someone else to handle the entire process and don’t mind a fee or commission.

2. No-haggle car lots

Even dealers understand that many people hate negotiating. Some have adapted to meet buyers’ demand for a simpler way to buy a car.

AutoNation, the largest automotive retailer in the U.S., recently introduced its One Price model, offering fixed pricing for its pre-owned cars. Nationwide used-car superstore CarMax has long been known for its no-haggle pricing. Certain local dealerships and rental companies, which sell former rental vehicles once they age out from their fleets, also offer haggle-free prices on used cars.

In most cases, you’ll still need to settle the financing at the dealer. But getting preapproved for an auto loan can give you a leg up on that part of the deal.

Best for: Used-car buyers who don’t mind hitting the dealership but don’t want to negotiate on price.

3. Online car-buying stores

Most online car-buying sites, like Carvana, Vroom and Shift, offer no-haggle pricing on used cars. You can search their inventory, set up financing and buy a vehicle online to be picked up or delivered to you.

However, the industry is still young, so there may not be a service near you. Shift, for instance, is available only in San Francisco. Plus, inventory may be limited, and in some cases you have to pay a delivery fee. But, then again, you never have to leave your couch to complete your purchase.

While most car-buying sites sell used cars, NowCar, an online dealership serving parts of Florida, can sell you a new car at a fixed price. So can Tesla, if you’re in the market for one of its luxury electric vehicles.

Best for: Buyers who want a speedy process that avoids the dealership entirely.

4. Car-buying clubs

Some companies have relationships with dealers and can offer their members preset car prices with guaranteed savings. For instance, AAA, Sam’s Club, Costco and American Express all have car-buying programs, as do many credit unions.

These services vary, but generally members input their preferences for a new or used model into an online search tool, and the club provides a fixed price for that car at a dealership in its network. Financing is handled separately, and since the clubs are working within a smaller pool of dealerships, options may be limited.

If you’re not a member of a club with this perk, some automotive websites like Edmunds Price Promise and TrueCar can send you preset prices if you enter your information online. However, you may wind up fielding numerous calls from dealers.

Best for: Buyers who are members of a participating program and don’t have their hearts set on a rare model.

5. Private sales

You can also search for used cars on private sale websites like Craigslist. You can filter listings for ones that say “obo,” which means “or best offer” or “firm,” which means the seller doesn’t want to negotiate. Even sellers who say the price is firm may still be willing to negotiate. But, compared with the dealer, private sales offer a friendlier, lower-key buying experience with less haggling.

Plus, private party prices are often hundreds of dollars below retail. However, it may be harder to secure an auto loan for these purchases. You also have no guarantees about the car’s condition, so you’ll want to pull a vehicle history report and have the car inspected by a mechanic you trust.

Best for: Used-car buyers who are comfortable judging a car’s condition and willing to do some extra legwork.

More car-buying advice from NerdWallet